Friday, June 27, 2008

Runequest - it should be much cooler than it seems

Runequest and the world that grew up along with it (and boardgames such as Dragon Pass and Red Moon/White Bear), known as Glorantha, is home to some amazing mythology and wonderful fantasy creatures.

There are ducks, gorps, broo, jack-o-bears, walktapi and loads of others.

And while I really liked good old 2nd edition Runequest (from Chaosium), it always seemed to be much more popular in England than the USA. Then when Avalon Hill published their version, they sort of emasculated Glorantha, and also mucked with a simple magic system (battle magic and rune magic) by adding sorcery. For some reason they also renamed Battle Magic to Spirit Magic. Not sure why. The addition of sorcery, of course, wasn't just a rule change, it also changed the fabric of the runequest world. The older system (where the world, Glorantha, was an integral part of the rules) had a real reason for there to be the two main types of magic - battle magic was something that everyone could learn. Small, quick spells that you cast, and they would dwindle quickly. The more potent rune magic spells were part of the mythology of the world (love it, or hate it), and so had a reason to be in the game.

Then along comes sorcery - a new, and potent magic, that doesn't really fit in the game. BUT it did give a new type of scholarly type magic that fit most medieval European style RPG worlds. And Avalon Hill was targeting (at least in the basic release) a sort of mythic Europe setting for their version of the game. Eventually, due to fan demand, and the ability to sense a buck to be made, Avalon Hill produced much of the Glorantha material (and a lot of it was in a very good format). But the game was changed forever.

The faithful have since released Glorantha in a couple of (admittedly) very weak looking systems for roleplaying heroquests and epic mythic adventures. Maybe it appeals to some, but not to me and my group. Good news however, there does seem to be an adherence to things old with the Mongoose Publishing version.

EDIT - The Mongoose version seems to be a pseudo d20 version. Sad. However, in June of 2008, Chaosium released a version of Basic Role Playing. This is not the old 1980 version of BRP (which was a stripped down version of their d100 rules, sort of Runequest without the Runequest parts), but is actually a reprint of the four books that made up the Avalon Hill production, but with the name "Runequest" removed throughout, and with the name "Basic Role Play" inserted instead. So, if sorcery is to be included, and battle magic is spirit magic, then it seems like this is the best version currently in print.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Back from Scotland

Gaming with Chuck took a 1 week hiatus while I was in Scotland, on travel at a Modeling and Simulation conference (my job, as well as my PhD studies). While there I did some extensive traveling on the very excellent British railway service, not to mention the Lothian Bus service Edinburgh. All of this has put me in the mood for some network and route-building games when I am back with my family and friends in the States.

Some of my favorite route and network building games are:

Some new ones that I would like to try (but either haven't played them yet, or don't own them yet):

Who knows, maybe the next few days will see some gameplay at Chateaux Turnitsa.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hilda Ironbottom - Fighter, Thief, and Duergar Hottie

There are those that doubt that Hilda Ironbottom has a softer side. After all, most of the time she is thought of as a stout fighter, companion to Annalise of Ehlonna, the Pope of Pain, Gilmore Badgerbreath (he's so cute, she thinks), and Dromeda of Underdark.

Previously, an image of the civilian side of Hilda was published, here. And certainly, if asked, Gilmore will attest to her feminine charms (but probably quicker after a couple of flagons of good Elf wine). But it is important to remember, that there is more to Hilda than just her business persona.

She might be a Duergar, and they have a history of having their women (and men) being bald (shorn of all hair, alright?), and certainly with a penchant for Evil, but she is really a good person. And she wears a right decent wig.

And the fact that she is a fighter/thief (3/3) makes her quite useful. She has exhbited exceptional rope use and climbing skills, and fights pretty good with the hand ax and the light crossbow.


Castles and Crusades Campaign - A Farewell to Arms

Viney Badeloch, the rogue extraordinaire, decalared a Farewell to Arms during the game this past week.

The adventurers had found the portal at the bottom of the Glacial Grotto of the Ice Hunter Goblins, and through it transported across the world to the very bottom of the dungeons of the ShadowRose, in Keoland.

Upon arriving, several guards of the goblin raider, Gutrag Hagrush, were dispatched, along with Gutrag himself. The group recovered the lost Kreftring, the heirloom of the Raker Mountain Dwarves of Ratik that the group had agreed to help.

Well, old Viney, due to some romantic entanglements that he got involved in when last in Keoland, decided that he actually liked the world much better back in Ratik, so he volunteered to return the Ring as quickly as possible (the adventurers have been underground, now, for several days). He took along with him the women the group rescued from the Goblins (serving as harem slaves).

Hopefully Viney will not be too late in returning the ring, and high priest Starmetal and the King will be fortified in their positions, and the wicked nephew of the king (and his advisor, from the Great Kingdom) will be recognized for what they are - opportunistic greedy materialists.

Is this the end of Viney Badeloch? Probably not, but for now it is a Farewell to Arms.

A small video tribute to Viney Badeloch...


Pink Camels, anyone?

We played Through the Desert a the Turnitsa Home earlier this week. What a blast. I really do like this game, it is a hoot.

It rates reasonably high (7.4) at Boardgame Geek, which got me to thinking. Which, of the many games we play at the Homestead, are the highest rated according to other people? And which company produces that games that we enjoy so much?

For high ranking games at home, I would guess Ticket to Ride, Settlers, or any of the Carcassonne variants. For companies, I would guess its Rio Grande, or for original publishers, maybe Days of Wonder or Fantasy Flight. Probably Days of Wonder, come to think of it.

At one time it would have been (for me) Avalon Hill, and then Mayfair. Task Force Games were huge in my life for a number of years, as well as Metagaming (still is). GDW ranked pretty high. But those were all (mostly) wargames. These days it's Euros, which explains the company shift.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That's a fat centipede

How big does a bug have to get to be considered a giant bug? I got to thinking about this one today in reflection on John's Haymaker article on Giant Centipede, and also about the "giant" bugs from RPGs and from great atomic age movies.


Says it all

lights, cameras, props

Paper Models from the Disney Experience.

These are a great resource for the gamer who wants to add a little extra mise en scene to his/her game. I particularly like the "Temple of the Forbidden Eye" but it does have over 500 crummy parts. Maybe the TWA Moonliner or the Nautilus might be a better starting project.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Boom Blox - infecting the Turnitsa household

Boom Blox from Electronic Arts has invaded our home.

We didn't play any boardgames this weekend, but I have to admit that it isn't ENTIRELY due to the arrival of Boom Blox. We had a couple of cookouts and soccer games to go to on Saturday, and Church on Sunday. The rest of the day, however, was Boom Blox. We played a couple of times, for maybe an hour or so each occasion.

The game is quite fun, with fun characters and levels, and the action is quite visceral. You get to demolish blocks in a number of great ways that remind me of the wooden block forts I used to build as a child. Me and a foe would each build a block fort on the floor of opposite ends of the living room or the front porch. Then we would populate those forts with green plastic army men. Then the war would commence. We would alternate throwing blocks at each others forts, trying to demolish as much as possible, and wipe out plastic army men. The one with the last army man standing was the winner. In many ways some of the Boom Blox levels work just like this.

Then there are the Jenga levels.

And the shooting levels.

Lots of fun, but not so good for the boardgaming schedule.

On a plus note, I picked up two new games - First is BattleLore (which I am looking forward to playing lots of at Historicon this summer)

Second is Ticket to Ride Märklin. This completes our set of all the (to date) Ticket to Ride board games. The card game might be next.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Castles and Crusades Campaign Headlines - Glacial Grotto Complete

Following the previous adventure, the group encounters a Drow monk - an outsider of typical Rakers Drow society - who agrees to join the group and stay with them. This is Leigh's new character, replacing his fallen dwarf, Nords.

Our Castles and Crusades session last night had a great finish to a tough adventure. The players received their adventure experience points, and progressed the campaign.

Those present were:
  • Marcy - Annalise of Ehlonna
  • Elliott - Jacques Guerrable (The Pope of Pain)
  • Craig - Gilmore Badgerbreath
  • Leigh - Dromeda
  • NPC - Viney Badeloch
  • NPC - Hilda Ironbottom

In addition to fighting another TOUGH group of greater goblins, the group explored an underground fungus garden, and discovered a group of women who were being kept as slaves by the goblins. Liberating both fungus and women, the group proceeded to delve into even deeper regions of the goblin outpost, to find the goal of their quest. The portal to the dungeon in Keoland (where, presumably, the Goblin Chieftain and the Kreftring are to be found) was discovered. After testing the portal, the entire group went through, and are now deep in the depths of the "Forgotten Dungeons of the Shadow Rose"

Future updates to be posted, but here is a list of all campaign updates so far.

Once the players are in Keoland, expect some more run-ins with Drow Elves, as the main plot of the campaign (and the secret of the League of Sorcerors) begins to reveal itself.

Glacial Grotto of the Ice Hunter Goblins - Completed

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Victorian Science Fiction Wargaming page

Really great wargaming advice, links, pictures and stuff available at VSF and 15mm Science Fiction Gaming.

I've got some really cool stuff from there (Russian stuff, as well as links to great Victorian British stuff).

I really love the picture of Teddy. He seems to capture at least the American version of the later Victorian age.


Classic bits - forgotten?

There are some really classic D&D style roleplay tropes. I am wondering which of these are still in play these days, considering some resistance to the "spike the doors of the dungeon room, so we can take an 8 hour rest" maneuver performed by my current Castles and Crusades group.

  • Spiking doors.
  • Carrying rations (to eat, and to throw down a corridor to lure monsters).
  • 10' pole.
  • High Hard Boots.
  • Continual light cast on a small object to be thrown into a room.
  • Henchmen.
  • Mapping.
  • Characters having a "last will and testament".
  • Fearing oozes, slimes, and jellies.
  • If you didn't bring it into the dungeon with you, DON'T EAT IT.
  • Elves make the best thieves (secret door spotting).
  • 2 Fighters (or fighter-types) for every other party member.
  • Attracting followers and building a stronghold.
  • 50' of silk rope (hemp weighs too much).
  • Small cage with a songbird in it (warns of gas problems).
  • Caltrops.
  • Humans in the rear, with polearms, fighting over shorter demi-humans in the front.
  • Hooded lantern or bullseye lantern - it makes a difference.
  • Flasks of oil.
  • Flasks of holy water.
  • Flasks of acid.
  • Extra bowstrings.
  • Hammer and pitons - because you never know.
  • At least one person in the party should wear wolfsbane.
  • Someone should carry garlic.
  • Pool extra money at the start for thieves tools and holy symbols.
  • First level fighters shouldn't balk at wearing that better armor the dead orc has on.
  • Somebody has a pouch of copper pieces, to toss on the floor and distract the kobolds.
  • Secret phrase to check for Doppleganger infiltration.


Lets Play a Game of "Guess what happens next"

Stupid Tiger Picture

See if you can guess what happens next. Answer using a comment. Valuable prizes await the wittiest among you.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Memoir 44 - French Resistance Figures

For Memoir 44, I picked up a box of plastic French Resistance figures from Caesar Miniatures (purchased at the local Hobby Town while shopping for a chess set for my Daughter's birthday). These are pretty nice.

There are 42 figures in the set, so plenty for the published French Res. scenarios for Memoir 44.